PETALING JAYA: Caring Malaysians are stepping forward to make the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme a success by offering their services as “vaccination taxi”, ferrying senior citizens to and fro their appointments for free.
Ratna Salsabella Ismail has been driving seniors in Kelantan to their appointments since early May after reading news reports that almost 10, 000 people in the state failed to show up for their jabs.
“I felt it was impossible that those who didn’t show up were afraid of the jab.
“There must have been other factors, such as transportation issues. That was when I got the idea to help, ” said the 31-year-old entrepreneur, who goes by Bella.
She started spreading the word and the initiative kicked off.
“At first, we started with only two cars but after a week, we started to receive an overwhelming response and I had to find more volunteers.
“My husband is also involved and very supportive. He is an auditor who is currently working from home, ” she said, adding that her team was offering services around Kota Baru, Tanah Merah, Bachok, Tumpat and Pasir Mas.
While they did not expect to be compensated in any way, Bella was touched that those they assisted expressed their gratitude as well as prayed for their health and safety.
“There were also those who gave us vegetables and fruits as a way to thank us, ” she said.
While admitting that she does worry about getting infected when transporting people to the vaccine dispensing centres (PPV), Bella said she takes precautions such as changing into fresh clothes after completing her duties.
“Fear should never hold us back, ” she said, adding that she felt utter satisfaction at being able to extend a bit of help in this time of need.
In Sabah, 40-year-old housewife Norfadzlina Ramsah not only knocks on the doors of houses in Beluran villages to encourage folks to sign up for the vaccination, but her team also provides free transport for seniors who have trouble travelling to the PPV.
The founder of NGO Beluran Hope said because they registered the people manually, it was easy for them to take note of those who needed transport as well as the elderly with medical conditions.
“I’m fully aware of all these fear-mongering stories about vaccines circulating in WhatsApp and social media and my concern is always for the folks who are easily influenced by fake news.
“When I read that Sabah has the lowest number for vaccination registrations, I immediately knew what caused it.
“So I decided to set my team to do house to house visits and try to educate them about the vaccine, ” said Norfadzlina, who has been actively hitting the ground since the pandemic hit last year.
Although she has fears about risking her team, Norfadzlina said as Beluran was currently a green zone, they were taking this opportunity to enrol more people for the programme.
“We hope that we are able to get everyone vaccinated before Beluran turns into a yellow or orange zone, or worse, a red zone, ” she said.
Social activist Syed Azmi Syed Alhabshi is providing transportation funds for senior citizens aged 60 and above, their kin or caregiver who need some financial help to take the seniors under their care to and from the PPV.
“This is to support vaccination among the elderly and ease their transportation financial constraints, ” he said.
Syed Azmi said his assistance was open nationwide and anyone interested could contact him at 019-666 4779.